Rep. Beverly Pingerelli (R-28), Chair of the State Department of Education, led a group of Arizona lawmakers, including Senator Ken Bennett (R-LD1) and Representative Michael Carbone (R-25), opposing Gov. Katie Hobbs’ selection of lobbyists to head up her recently created task force on school spending. Citing Hobbs’ exclusion of key stakeholders – parents, teachers, school-board members, and legislators – in favor of teachers union members and staff, Pingerelli highlighted the need for proper oversight to ensure adherence to public policy and the rights of students and taxpayers. She expressed concern that Hobb’s narrowly-selected membership will focus on the expenditure itself, irrespective of the state’s needs. She also lamented the need to include independent experts to provide unbiased assessments of the best use of public funding.
“We remind the Governor that real leadership requires all stakeholders in the room working on tough issues, not a one-sided committee where the conclusion is complete before it begins,” stated Representative Pingerelli. “Leaving out lawmakers, parents, and taxpayers ignores vital concerns. It certainly calls into question the ability of the State Legislature to support the effort if the changes adopted by the committee are unreasonable.”
Senator Bennett, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, added, “When the Governor creates committees like these, she’s missing out on the diversity that is vital to ensuring that productive solutions can be reached. If you want to hold school buildings to higher standards, you need a voice from the people who are directly impacted by them, as well as experts who don’t personally benefit from being on the committee. We all want better schools, and to do so, we need lawmakers and community members involved in these discussions and decisions.”
Representative Michael Carbone (R-25) also expressed concerns over the Governor’s membership selection. He stated, “Our school districts must compete with a variety of providers in the 21st century, and we cannot box them in with 20th century-thinking that every school needs to be the same. Instead of finding ways to mandate more spending on capital, our schools should be focused on flexible models and increased spending in the classroom.”
The Globe reached out to Rep. Pingerelli to determine what oversight the Department of Education can and will offer to protect taxpayers and reduce the risk of abuse.
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